2019 Provost's Lecture Series
November 22: Mats Larsson
Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics Nobel Prizes in 1933
Co-Sponsors: Department of Physics and Astronomy, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics
Abstract: There has never been a longer peace-time gap in the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics than between 1930 and 1933. The gap did not depend on a lack of candidates, but the significant problems the Nobel Committee had to reconcile the new quantum mechanics with the requirement of the will of Alfred Nobel, who states that the prize should be awarded for a “discovery” or “invention.” Whereas the committee agreed that Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger were the obvious candidates, the situation for Paul Dirac was totally different. The 1932 year’s prize had been postponed, and 1933 turned out to be a dramatic year. The discovery of the positive electron (positron), announced in March 1933, was a game changer, and finally raised Dirac to where he belonged: an equal to Heisenberg and Schrödinger. Based on the original documents from the Nobel archive, the lecture will describe Dirac’s dramatic road to a Nobel Prize in Physics.
November 22, 5:45 pm, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics Della Pietra Family Auditorium
October 2: Camilla Townsend
Indigenous Historians in Colonial Mexico
Professor Townsend's lecture is part of MEXICO 500+: Indigenous and Global Cultures in Colonial Mesoamerica
Co-Sponsors: Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature, Humanities Institute, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center
Abstract: Professor Townsend will be describing her recent work on sixteenth century Nahuatl
“year counts,” traditional storytelling performances that were transcribed into Roman
letters after the alphabetization of young Nahuas by Spanish friars. These Mexican
annals were written by Indians to be consumed by Indians and stand out as great examples
of the vitality of Indigenous cultures. Her research has recovered the identities
and contexts of generations of indigenous writers that narrated their own history
in a highly complex colonial context.
October 4: Dr. Martin Sliwinski
Cognition on the Go: The Opportunities and Challenges for Mobile Cognitive Health
Co-Sponsors: Stony Brook University Aging Interest Group, Department of Psychology, and Program in Public Health
Abstract: Dr. Sliwinski will describe his recent work on developing mobile assessments of cognitive performance. Cognitive decline is a defining feature of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Tracking cognitive change is also central to clinical and research applications focused on normative cognitive aging and other health applications. Traditional approaches to measuring cognition are, however, hampered by retrospective reporting biases and inaccuracies, unmeasured sources of within-person variability, and the artificial nature of the testing environment. Additionally, ambulatory methods allow the study of ‘real-time’ relationships between risk exposures (e.g., stress, pain, poor sleep) and cognitive function in daily life, which can provide novel opportunities for developing personalized and time-sensitive interventions.
October 4, 2 pm, Charles B. Wang Center Theater
October 18: Omar M. Yaghi
Reticular Chemistry Leading to Carbon Capture and Water Harvesting from Air
Co-Sponsor: Department of Chemistry
Abstract: Since the first report of metal-organic frameworks in the mid-1990s and covalent organic frameworks in 2005, the chemistry of these frameworks has rapidly developed to become one of the fastest growing field of chemistry. It is reticular chemistry, which is defined as linking of molecular building blocks by strong bonds into crystalline extended structures. In this lecture the challenges and solutions to making crystalline, truly porous frameworks, and the ‘grammar’ of linking organic and inorganic building blocks by strong bonds into MOFs will be described. The flexibility with which these structures can be varied and modified has led to a plethora of structures and applications especially in catalysis, carbon capture, and water harvesting from desert air. The lecture will conclude by showing how multivariate structures of MOFs may very well lead to sequence-dependent materials properties.
October 18, 3:30 pm, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics Della Pietra Family Auditorium
Presentation of the Rohlf Medal
October 24: Dean C. Adams
Morphometrics, Macroevolution, and An Effect Size Measure for Multivariate Data
Co-Sponsors: Department of Anthropology and the Department of Ecology and Evolution
Abstract: Understanding how phenotypes evolve at macroevolutionary scales is a major goal in evolutionary biology and lies within the purview of phylogenetic comparative methods. However, while comparative evolutionary biology provides a paradigm for characterizing patterns of phenotypic evolution, much of this toolkit is univariate, allowing only single-valued traits to be evaluated. By contrast, the field of geometric morphometrics provides a rich analytical framework for quantifying complex traits in a multivariate context, yet these approaches have been typically applied to non-phylogenetic questions. To decipher evolutionary patterns in complex traits, the best of both analytical toolkits is required. Our work has attempted to bridge this gap by providing new analytical theory and methods that merge and advance these two fields. In this talk, Dean Adams will review some of the developments that underlie the mathematical merger of multivariate shape theory and phylogenetic comparative methods. He argues that the unification of geometric morphometrics with phylogenetic comparative methods provides a path forward to addressing many recalcitrant issues in the macroevolution of multivariate phenotypes and has revealed several unexpected patterns not appreciated from a univariate perspective alone. His work has also lead to the emergence of an effect size measure for multivariate data, which has surprisingly broad application across a wide range of research questions. He anticipates this new effect size measure will have wide utility in morphometrics, evolutionary biology, and beyond.
October 24, 4 pm, Charles B. Wang Center Lecture Hall 2